Due to a kind of fast forming tradition, as I finished my previous position last year, the IT fellows I worked with got together and purchased an Estes model rocket as a farewell present.
Naturally, I was overjoyed, and the next day at 8:00am prior to work, we did 2 launches, both of which were great fun, and with safe landings and recovery.
So what do you get with a hobbyist model rocket? You get instructions an airframe, launch pad, remote launch panel, a blast plate, and parachute and a solid rocket booster not unlike the variety found on NASA's Space Shuttle, just smaller.
Smaller indeed, but it still burns with a no-nonsense intensity that gets it off the ground with a significantly swift acceleration and velocity. It's at this point that I discovered what rocket scientists the world around also know; at ballistic speeds, small variations become big differences quickly. At that point all you can do is watch - Whoosh!
Later over Christmas with nieces, nephews and family around I did another 2 launches, which were less successful than the first 2, but not catastrophic.
The first launch (pictured here) lost it's parachute, and the second went for a wander on the wind. The lessons learned; Check the condition of all of the equipment prior to launch & don't launch when it's windy!